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US Fish and Wildlife Service downgrades risks of Enlist herbicides

by Britt E. Erickson
June 4, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 18

Chemical structure of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid.

Fewer endangered species are likely to be harmed by Enlist herbicides than previously reported, according to a draft biological opinion by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Last year, the US Environmental Protection Agency found that Enlist herbicides, which contain the active ingredient 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), or a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate, are likely to adversely affect more than 100 endangered species. After consulting with Fish and Wildlife, the EPA now says the number of affected species is only 22 when mitigation measures are used to reduce runoff and drift from treated fields. Enlist herbicides are marketed by Corteva Agriscience. The chemicals are used on corn, soybeans, and cotton genetically modified to tolerate them. Environmental groups, which have long criticized Fish and Wildlife for downplaying risks to endangered species, are urging the EPA to require mitigation measures now. “The Fish and Wildlife Service is giving the EPA 18 months to implement them. These measures need to be in place for this growing season, not 2025,” Brett Hartl, the government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, says in an email.


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